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Minister Coughlan urges farmers to lodge Single Farm Payment applications before 15 May 2008

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mary Coughlan, TD, today again urged those farmers who have yet to lodge applications under the 2008 Single Payment Scheme to do so without delay. "I am becoming quite concerned with the relatively low level of applications already received by my Department, particularly given that the closing date, 15 May 2008, is the latest date allowed under EU rules for receipt of applications," the Minister said. "Under the provisions of the governing EU Regulations, there is no option to extend this year's closing date and I want to be very clear on this point. Applications lodged with my Department after the 15 May closing will, unfortunately, be subject to the late penalties laid down under EU rules," she added.

While the closing date in previous years had been initially set at a date earlier than 15 May, thereby allowing flexibility to extend the closing date, this option is not available in 2008. Minister Coughlan said: "When choosing a closing date for the 2008 Scheme, however, I had to be very mindful of the fact that, for the first time, applicants under the Rural Environment Protection Scheme are now obliged to submit an SPS application. Furthermore, applicants under a variety of other schemes, including the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme, the Energy Crops Scheme, the Farm Waste Management Scheme and the new Suckler Welfare Scheme, amongst many others, are also obliged to submit Single Payment applications. Therefore, given the expected high demand for the assistance of Farm Advisors in completing the paperwork involved, it was decided to set the closing date at the latest date allowed under the EU rules."

The Minister noted that the number of applications being submitted through her Department's on-line facility has increased significantly. "I am particularly encouraged to see that the number of on-line applications received already exceeds the total number submitted under last year's Scheme," she said. The Minister reminded farmers that, in addition to individual registration at http://www.agfood.ie for the on-line facility, there is also provision for farmers to nominate Agents, who will lodge the on-line application on their behalf. "I would certainly urge all farmers to at least consider the option of the on-line facility, particularly given that there is now a network of approved Agents throughout the country who can lodge the application for you. Don't feel that because you have little or no experience of computers that the on-line option isn't for you - it easily could be!" she concluded.

2 May 2008

Date Released: 02 May 2008